New Minister for Mental Health wants urgent laws on social media comments


The new Minister for Mental Health has called for new, urgent laws to control what is being said on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Mary Butler, Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford said she has been the subject of vile and toxic comments from people and she has now deleted her Facebook account.

Deputy Butler was appointed Minister of State for Older People and Mental Health this week.

Speaking on Waterford Local Radio she said some of the worst abuse included one person calling for her to kill herself.

“There are some social media elements that are absolutely toxic,” she said, describing what she said was the worst which happened the night before the recent general election when somebody messaged.

“They told me to take a rope and go to the shed and use it. I was gone to bed and my 23-year-old daughter got the notification and she came up to my room hysterical. 

I had to stay up for two hours with her that night, trying to calm her down, absolutely hysterical that somebody would put that up on Facebook and had no problem putting it up.

“I looked at his page and saw he has children of his own.

“What is wrong with some people?” 

She wants people who set up Facebook accounts to have to register proof of identity and age adding she has no problem people commenting on policies or politics they don’t agree with but says some people can go too far.

“There are some horrendous comments and I’ve had some sent to me privately. 

“People are sometimes online using the #bekind but if 10 or 12 bad comments go up, it feeds into a frenzy,” she said, adding these can develop into some very nasty comments.

She also said a Garda investigation is on-going into a complaint she has made about her previous Facebook account possibly being hacked.

“I believe legislation is coming that will change matters, but yes, it won’t apply retrospectively,” she said.

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